I’m a big fan of the Cotton Carrier vest system. Why? Because it takes the load off of my neck/shoulders/arms, when the camera isn’t being held in shooting position. However, I’ve had it shelved for the last couple of years because I’ve been doing tripod work, and that work involved using the Arca Swiss style plate and clamps.
I really haven’t been keeping up on the developments with the Cotton Carrier system, but have recently gone back and taken a look at them. Specifically, the Cotton Carrier Universal Adapter Plate, which has a built-in Arca Swiss style dovetail plate and a Cotton Carrier Hub mount point.
In the above photo, the Cotton Carrier Universal Adapter Plate is seen atop another Arca Swiss style plate, the Neewer PU70, which is bolted to the bottom of the Sony Alpha A77. This represents how I have the plate attached to my camera at the current time.
Common cuttlefish swimming amidst some coral. Dark pigmentation banding on display. Photographed with Sony A77 + Sony 85mm/2.8 SAM
All About Cephalopod!
During the Memorial Day weekend, my family and I made the trip down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We were quite excited about the new Tentacles exhibit, which featured cephalopod! They had nautilus, cuttlefish, squid, and octopi in the exhibit, along with some works of art, both ancient and modern. Of note were the Minoan vases denoting our tentacled friends and some turn of the century nature illustrations.
In the above image, I photographed the Common Cuttlefish. While it’s called a common cuttlefish, it is actually quite beautiful and unique! The banding on the back are actually changing pigments that the cuttlefish uses for communication and expression. It goes from a pale and almost translucent patternless form to the dark banding you see in the photograph above.
CTS and RSI, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Stress Injuries, for those who don’t know, is endemic in the IT industry. Long hours on the keyboard and mouse combined with bad posture and/or bad desk/chair/monitor/keyboard/mouse setups greatly compound the problem. Dealing with CTS/RSI requires those who have it to basically not do anything that aggravates or contributes to the condition. For the IT field, that means changing up the work environment and reducing typing and using the mouse. It also means not being able to put much weight in the affected hands/arms, as that too would contribute to the problem.
In short, CTS/RSI are a serious pain in the neck… both figuratively and literally.
Flower Hat Jelly – Olindias Formosa – Medusa Sombrero Floreado
I’ve got to say, I’m admire the beauty of the Undersea Jelly exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They’ve completed a very extensive renovation a while back and it’s only been on a recent trip that I’ve had the time to take some photographs of their amazing jellyfish. Above, the Flower Hat Jelly is amazingly colorful, especially under the special lights of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s displays.
Photography of Ben & Jerry, local guitarists, performing at Filoli Gardens
I recently had the opportunity to attend a live performance by Benett Zussman and Jerry Snyder. They are both performing artists, instructors, and an absolute pleasure to watch and listen to them play.
The Guitar Story
Ben & Jerry have a regular performance entitled, “The Guitar Story”, in which they will be performing a series of pieces from different time periods in history leading up to the current day.
They have two performances coming up in June 2013. So if you enjoy the guitar played well, their performance would be worth attending.
Long exposure / light trails exposure of San Francisco from Twin Peaks
I shot “Paths of Light” from Twin Peaks, overlooking San Francisco. Using a long exposure, I timed the capture of the traffic below to create beautiful streams of light below, while in the distance, the moon casts a pale and beautiful glow over the bay, beyond the city’s lights.
This photograph was captured with the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens with the Sony Alpha A77 camera. The Rokinon’s 8mm fisheye seems to take light sources, like the Moon, in stride.
Occasionally, I get interesting little tidbits of entertainment from certain facets of real life. Case in point, people with similar names to me. Apparently, my name is fairly common. As such, there are in excess of 600 “Wing Wong”(s) in just the bay area alone. So it was inevitable that I would eventually encounter a collision at some point.
Yesterday, I got an email from a photographer I had contacted a while back. He asked in passing whether or not I was the “Wing Wong” who was recently featured in RangeFinder magazine. I just HAD to check it out. If you’re curious, facebook profile.
Apparently, he’s based out of San Francisco and is a working photographer and designer. Very very cool. No blood relation though.
What To Do When Inspiration Strikes
While it was an interesting case of serendipity, I didn’t think much of it. A couple of Facebook posts, and some inspirational ideas on the commute home. Slept on it. This morning, on the train ride in, I thought to myself, “why not?”.
So, I went and checked out the RangeFinder online site and found that they had a contest going on, which was about to close shortly. I took a couple of minutes to download the original of my “Crystal Forest” shot and uploaded a resized version, after paying my $35 image fee.
For those interested and who’d like to support me with a People’s Choice vote, here is my submission:
I’ve also gotten a very well made 360 pano adapter for an iphone, as well as great support software.
However, all is not well.
Crowdsourcing Projects Can Suck!
So, I also backed this document the last shuttle flight project. The reward was to have been a CD/DVD of the footage. It’s been like 2 years and the project organizers have stopped responding to emails and communications. In this case, I’m basically screwed. I’m out my money, and I’m SOL on getting the reward I was promised. And since the dollar amount was fairly low, it isn’t worthwhile to go after them.
Most everyone else got their reward, so in my case, I just got the short end of the stick. Though you can bet had the value been higher, this would have been pursued. Short of a class action, though, it would be very tempting for some crooks to rip people off through these crowdsourcing funding projects.
Summary: Buyer Beware!
Long and short of it, crowd sourced funding is definitely buyer beware. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of funding an underdog or a potential dark horse, that you fail to see that it could just be too good to be true. The massive funding campaigns for the game stations and such… I fear might wind up going down that dark road. Only time will tell.
So, it’s been a while and Easter has arrived. In addition my family making a ham, this year, we went to the Filoli Garden in California and amidst the thousands of tulips in bloom at the gardens, I found this composition that caught my eye:
Yellow Tulip embraced by two blue flowers.
Photographed with the Sony A77 DSLT and the Sony 70-200/2.8G. The shape of the tulip was quite egg-like and the entwined flowers around it just made the shot for me. Love it.
Recently, I got to spend some time shooting in low light conditions with the Sony Alpha A77 at ISO 1600+.
So, when I got the images home and started looking at the previews… I felt an overwhelming urge to throw my camera through the window. Seriously, it was pretty disheartening. The low light performance of the camera isn’t all that great. There is a good deal of noise and after noise reduction, I feel like 24MP was in name only. Let’s just say… I was wondering if it wasn’t too late to swap out for the D800… but then again, aside from the high iso performance issue… I love the A77, so giving it a day to sit, I gave processing the images a second try.
The first thing to remember is that the A77 is NOT the A700. I know I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but it bears repeating. The images have more luminance noise. Using LR defaults will give you some really bad looking previews.
Red Moray Eel - Monterey Bay Aquarium ( Sony A77 / ISO 3200 )
The above image was shot at ISO 3200. Given enough light, the shots come out clean. However, when you have more challenging scenes, the amount of noise and somewhat heavy handed noise reduction can obliterate detail, resulting in the “painterly” effect.
Hammer Head Shark - Monterey Bay Aquarium ( Sony A77 / ISO 3200 )
The photograph of the Hammerhead shark above was shot handheld at ISO 3200 from the big two story tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s pretty dark, shooting hand held with the 70-200/2.8 was a bit of a challenge. However, it was significantly easier with the A77 than it was with the A700, thanks to the EVF and articulated LCD. It was thankfully, literally painless.
At the end of the day, you choose the right tool for the job. For low light, high iso, settings, I’m not convince that the A77 is the best camera for the job. I’m looking forward to the A99, which may potentially bring better high ISO performance. But I’m also keeping an eye on the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D MK-III, both of which boasts better high iso performance, albeit at a much steeper price and without the ergonomic benefits of the A77’s articulated LCD display.
After processing some of the images from the aquarium, I went back and compared the images from the A77 and those from the A700. The difference is evident: there is more detail in the A77 shots vs the A700 shots. Yes, there is more noise, due to the number of pixels for the same area. However, there is definitely more information there and it shows.
Is it the best it can be? No. There is enough detail robbing noise that the output will annoy more than a few photographers. For me, however, while annoying, the benefits of the A77 overall outweighs the weaknesses of the camera’s high ISO low-light performance.